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Monday, May 30, 2005

Alpha Bravo Charlie

Adeel Suleman visited me this weekend. He has been in Copenhagen (Denmark) for the last 3 months for a project on behalf of his company.

I met him first time in 1991 when we moved from Lahore to Rawalpindi and I got admission in F.G. Sir Syed Boys' Secondary School, The Mall. That was 7th grade (I was 11 then) and we studied together till matriculation.

FG Sir Syed (as we used to call it) was one hell of a school. There were about 3500 students and being an FG school the fee was minimal - we used to pay Rs. 26.75 a month (and I actually paid a reduced fee, perhaps Rs. 16/-, as my elder brother was also studying there). As you can expect, the standard of education was horrible. But the competition was enough to keep us giving our best. There were about 400 students in 10th grade divided into 5 sections. Our section had 80 students and about 60 chairs, which meant some of us had to stand the whole day (or had to sit on the floor). We used to steal chairs from neighboring sections and then they used to come to us in search for their chairs.

Not only there was shortage of furniture, there was shortage of drinking water as well. There was only one water tank for 3500 students and on top of that they had this PTI who used to beat us with a stick if we drank water after recess. Of course, the water tank and the water itself were unhygienic.

One of the other regular features of our school was that some students bunked classes and used to go to video game shops or to a cinema in Pindi Saddar. The principal had a Suzuki Bolan in which he used to go and bring them back. Our teacher of Biology, for example, hadn't studied Biology himself. He had done FA and was preparing for BSc. There were countless other amusing things: I still believe that if you recorded a day's proceedings of the school, it would have been a hit TV serial.

Despite all of this, the fee as well as the location of the school were very attractive. Almost every middle-class family in Rawalpindi wanted to send their children to this school. This meant too much competition for us. In our section only, there were 5 students who competed for 1st position and an equal number for the later positions. Some of us were very jealous of others. We studied day and night to get more and more marks. Not only we had to compete amongst ourselves, a few students were sons of teachers and they used to get much more marks than they deserved.

There was Kamran Ashar Siddiqui who had got 1st position in Federal Board exams of 5th class and later got 2nd position in Federal Board in 8th class. He later joined PAF Academy Risalpur and became an Aeronautical Engineer - the most brilliant guy I know.

There was Usman who got 1st position in FSc exams in the entire Federal Board (which comprises of all the colleges in Islamabad, some in Rawalpindi, all Pakistan embassy colleges, all Fauji Foundation, Army Public, Bahria and PAF colleges anywhere in Pakistan and many other colleges). He was awarded a Gold Medal then. He later topped UET Taxilla as an Electrical Engineer.

Zubair Khalid got Gold Medal in Matric. He is now with Army Signals. Then there was yours truly who got 2nd position in Federal Board in FSc. General Science and later topped FAST ICS, Karachi.

And in this race was Adeel Suleman who graduated from FAST ICS, Islamabad and is now working in Pisigma.

Then there was a second lot who competed for the position after these 5: Abdus Sammad who is son of Col. Ashfaq Hussain (who wrote Gentleman Bismillah, Gentleman Alhumdo Lillah, Fatih-e-Suboona and he was the man behind Sunehray Din and Alpha Bravo Charlie with Shoaib Mansoor). He joined Army and last time I heard of him, he was fighting in Siachin. And then my elder brother, Akbar, who got medals and scholarship in BBA and MBA. He graduated from IBA and is now Sales Category Manager at Reckitt Benckiser. Salman Iqbal, Saqib Gillani; the list goes on and on...

We were all class mates!


Adeel and Me


I wonder how Adeel would have reacted if the professional jealousy were still between us. We discussed at length what we had been doing and what we plan to do next.

Are we still running for something without knowing where we will end up? Or do we see life in a bigger perspective?


آنکھیں دیکھتی رہ جاتی ہیں
سپنے دور نکل جاتے ہیں
اور سپنوں کا پیچھا کرنے والے
اپنے نام گنوا دیتے ہیں۔
کبھی الفا، کبھی براو، کبھی چارلی۔

(Theme Song of Alpha Bravo Charlie by Shoaib Mansoor)